Letters sent by Niger’s foreign ministry to US, German and Nigerian ambassadors Kathleen Fitzgibbons, Olivier Schneckenberg and Mohamed Ousmane, accessed by AFP, “refuse to respond to invitations for interviews” and “other activities contrary to Niger’s interests”, to withdraw their permission to carry out diplomatic activities, 48 It was also decided to order to leave the territory of this country within hours.
The U.S. ambassador arrived in Niger’s capital, Niamey, in early August and held his post for only a dozen or so days. The US State Department has yet to comment on the junta’s decision.
Earlier on Friday, a similar letter reached the French ambassador to Niger, Sylvain Itte, who was also given 48 hours to leave.
The US has denied reports that it has expelled its ambassador from Niger
The US State Department on Friday denied a request by Niger’s foreign ministry to recall the US ambassador to the country. A spokesman for the department said the Nigerian side had clarified that the letters appearing online in the case had not been released by Niger’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“The US government has not received any such request,” a State Department spokesman said after AFP reported that the US ambassador to Niger had been given 48 hours to leave the country.
Coup in Niger
On July 26, a military junta overthrew democratically elected President Mohamed Bassum, a Western ally and key figure in the fight against jihadist forces in the Sahel. General Diziani declared himself the new leader of the country.
Diziani makes extensive use of anti-French rhetoric. The military junta broke military agreements concluded with Paris, particularly those regarding the deployment of French troops as part of operations against jihadists. The military regime accused Paris of seeking to intervene militarily in Niger to restore Bassum to power.
The military junta also says it is being paid by France, a former colonial power in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) region. Following the coup, ECOWAS imposed economic sanctions on Niger and threatened the military regime with the use of armed force to restore constitutional order.
According to observers cited by Reuters, the decisions of the Nigerian military regime, including the earlier closure of the country’s borders and airspace, show that it is moving towards a complete isolation of the country.
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